Urban Legends In War
January 21, 2009 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Now that the fighting in Gaza is over for the time being, it's time for urban legends to arise out of the morass. One story now making the rounds on the Israeli side involves soldiers claiming the Biblical matriarch Rachel warned them of Hamas ambushes and guided them away from booby-trapped homes. Strangely, Rachel supposedly appeared as an Arabic-speaking older woman. Meanwhile, American soldiers during the second Iraq war spawned their own urban legends. But these stories are just the latest entries in a long tradition.

The Angels of Mons
The Ghost Pilot
Pippo
The Amputee's Letter
The American Soldiers' Ghosts
The Homing Pigeon Kidnap Plot
posted by huskerdont (27 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jenin also spawned an urban legend or two.
posted by gman at 8:06 AM on January 21, 2009


I couldn't read the story about homing pigeons carrying ransom money without that one scene from The Holy Grail playing in my head.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:07 AM on January 21, 2009


Strangely, Rachel supposedly appeared as an Arabic-speaking older woman.

Things are never what they seem. Jesus made me toast this morning, though he was disguised as my toaster. There were no images burned into the bread but let me tell you it was sacralicious.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:09 AM on January 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm still worried about camel spiders - those bastards can outrun guys and pierce through tank hulls!
posted by filthy light thief at 8:44 AM on January 21, 2009


"Corn" Sherrill!
posted by mwhybark at 8:46 AM on January 21, 2009


Rachel also lures soldiers into booby-trapped homes, but for some reason those stories don't get told.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:53 AM on January 21, 2009


That's nothing, Jesus built my hotrod.
posted by isopraxis at 9:20 AM on January 21, 2009


It all just goes to show that the gaseous invertebrate superhero who lives in outer space is, in fact, on our side.
posted by Forrest Greene at 9:32 AM on January 21, 2009


Did the 'biblical matriarch Rachel' help them aim the tanks at the food warehouses or point the bomb sights at the schools or guide the hands of the politicians who have now banned 'Arab political parties' from the upcoming 'democratic elections? Come on, Huskerdont, this is unworthy tripe to put in front of us after what we've just watched these monsters at work.
posted by jackbrown at 9:46 AM on January 21, 2009


jackbrown, I wouldn't be so hasty to make assumptions about huskerdont's perspective on the matter. He is presenting it in the context of urban legends, after all. And he faved my comment about sacralicious Jesus toast.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:55 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think I can be interested in urban legends that arise in battle without endorsing the actions that provide the context. This isn't a pro-Israel GYOB kind of post. I think this kind of modern folklore is fascinating. Thanks, huskerdont.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:01 AM on January 21, 2009


Did the 'biblical matriarch Rachel' help them aim the tanks at the food warehouses or point the bomb sights at the schools or guide the hands of the politicians who have now banned 'Arab political parties' from the upcoming 'democratic elections?

Um, have you read the Old Testament? That's exactly the kind of thing a Biblical matriach would help the Jews do.
posted by nasreddin at 10:02 AM on January 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


OP here. Like Pater Alethias said, this is all about the urban legends that arise in wartime. This post isn't for or against Israel, I just think the stories soldiers take home with them from wartime are damn interesting. And, yes, Jesus toast is indeed sacralicious.

Also, for anyone interested in Palestian urban legends/modern folklore, I heartily recommend this book in English (or the Arabic translation as the case may be).
posted by huskerdont at 10:17 AM on January 21, 2009


See, you could've told us about that book without the commentary laden links.
posted by gman at 10:22 AM on January 21, 2009


Jesus made me toast this morning, though he was disguised as my toaster. There were no images burned into the bread but let me tell you it was sacralicious.

And where you saw "For Single Slice", that was when I made eggs for you.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:28 AM on January 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


urban?
posted by geos at 10:36 AM on January 21, 2009


They're not urban legends, they are conscious attempts to present a large-scale massacre of civilians and under-armed men as somehow dangerous or like a war. The press and people who amplify them by passing them along are doing so in order to cover up a mild and no doubt unconscious sense that they have been participating in a great evil. I don't pretend to know huskerdont's agenda in putting this before us, but I think the agenda of those who put these silly and obvious stories out there in the first place is quite clear; I was merely pointing out to huskerdont that he's participating in a kind of disguised and unconscious propaganda exercise by passing them along to us.
posted by jackbrown at 10:38 AM on January 21, 2009


jackbrown, I think you need to find a nice hobby or something.

great post, huskerdont.
posted by Justinian at 10:47 AM on January 21, 2009


Come on, Huskerdont, this is unworthy tripe to put in front of us after what we've just watched these monsters at work.

I don't pretend to know huskerdont's agenda in putting this before us, but I think the agenda of those who put these silly and obvious stories out there in the first place is quite clear; I was merely pointing out to huskerdont that he's participating in a kind of disguised and unconscious propaganda exercise by passing them along to us.


No, he isn't.

The post - if I'm reading it right - seems to be about the little folk legends soldiers create in war. Is he also a Vietnam apologist? Is he making a point on the war in Iraq? How about WW1?

It seems a little extreme to pick one folk legend from one of the conflicts covered in this post and use it to slag huskerdont for taking a position on - or "participating in" a position on - that one conflict.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:54 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did you know that the word "dogma" is not in the dictionary?

It's true.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:12 AM on January 21, 2009


Come to think of it, neither is "dogmatic."

Ain't that some shit?
posted by jason's_planet at 11:13 AM on January 21, 2009


I was merely pointing out to huskerdont that he's participating in a kind of disguised and unconscious propaganda exercise by passing them along to us.
I'm always conscious of the values of capital being read into anything and everything, but I think you're doing both the OP and we the web-clicking public a bit of a disservice here, jackbrown. What has happened has happened, the lies too have been told, and we must trust people of good will to consider the history this produces in their own way. If you can spot it and I can spot it, let's expect everyone else can too and consider the matters at hand instead.
Thanks for the post, having said nothing of substance relating to it!
posted by Abiezer at 11:13 AM on January 21, 2009


Rachel is wasting her time working on the unit level.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:44 AM on January 21, 2009


The myth of Israel's strategic genius
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on January 21, 2009


The post - if I'm reading it right - seems to be about the little folk legends soldiers create in war.

I have no dog in this hunt, but for clarity's sake, I believe at least part of jackbrown's point is that this wasn't a war.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:14 PM on January 21, 2009


I was merely pointing out to huskerdont that he's participating in a kind of disguised and unconscious propaganda exercise by passing them along to us.

Isn't that kind of a given with lots of these war stories? I didn't think the propaganda was disguised especially, the "supernatural forces have blessed us and are watching over us" theme seems pretty obvious and drives part of the interest to a dispassionate observer.

Good post.
posted by Mcable at 2:08 PM on January 21, 2009


I have no dog in this hunt, but for clarity's sake, I believe at least part of jackbrown's point is that this wasn't a war.

I think we all got jackbrown's point.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:18 PM on January 21, 2009


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